You’re feeling moody or depressed
Cooler temperatures can bring on gloomy moods. Whether you call it the winter blues, cabin fever, or seasonal affective disorder (SAD), doctors often chalk up cold-weather mood dips to lack of sunshine. In fact, a study published in the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry found that people with lower levels of vitamin D are 10 times more likely to be depressed than those who have a healthy dose of the so-called “sunshine vitamin.” “Basically, it comes down to levels of the hormone serotonin in your brain,” explains Wesley Delbridge, RN, spokesperson for the Academy for Nutrition and Dietetics. “With exposure to bright light, like sunlight, serotonin will increase.” Translation? Catch a bit of sun, and your disposition could get sunnier, too. You can also take advantage of light therapy in the coldest, darkest months.
You’re gaining weight
Along with prompting skin to manufacture vitamin D, sunshine supplies the important nutrient nitric oxide, which keeps your metabolism running smoothly and discourages binge eating. A study published in the journal Diabetes found that exposure to UV rays can slow weight gain and ward off diabetes. Eating these foods will boost your vitamin D levels naturally.